Hand washing: Clean Hands Saves Lives

Wash Your Hands: The Right Way

When Should you wash your hands?

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After touching garbage
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound

What is the right way to wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

What if I don't have soap and clean, running water?
Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.

Hand sanitizers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty.

How do you use hand sanitizers?

  • Apply the product to the palm of one hand.
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.